Thursday, September 16, 2010

Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers Warned

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent letters last week to five manufacturers of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs), warning the companies that they were making unsubstantiated medical claims about their products, including the claim that the products were an aid to stopping smoking – a medical claim prohibited by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA also signaled its intent to regulate e-sigs as a drugs or drug-delivery devices.

An “e-cig” (since you forgot to ask) is a battery-powered cigarette-shaped device that can be loaded with a cartridge of nicotine and other additives. When the user inhales through the device, the battery vaporizes the liquid so that it can be inhaled into the lungs. The product contains no tobacco. A wisp of “smoke” appears, but it’s just water vapor.

Several of the e-cig products contain herbal ingredients in addition to nicotine. One of the e-cig companies even sells other drugs in liquid form for use in the devices, including an erectile dysfunction drug (tadalafil) and a weight-loss drug not approved in the U.S. (rimonabant).

The names of the companies and copies of the FDA’s letters to them can be found on the FDA web site in a press announcement dated Sept. 9th. Whether this is the end of e-cigs isn’t clear.

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